Napalm Death

You suffer.. Yes, you do suffer indeed. But why do you suffer? Isn't that a question that truly deserves to be pondered? Let us sit for a moment and just ruminate about this.
*special introductory paragraph!
*Scum
*From Enslavement To Obliteration
*The Peel Sessions
*Harmony Corruption
*Death By Manipulation
*Utopia Banished
*Fear, Emptiness, Despair
*Diatribes
*Bootlegged In Japan
*Inside The Torn Apart
*In Tongues We Speak EP (with Coalesce)
*Words From The Exit Wound
*Leaders Not Followers EP
*Enemy Of The Music Business
*Order Of The Leech
*Leaders Not Followers: Part 2
*The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code
*Smear Campaign
*Time Waits For No Slave

Napalm Death were one of the pioneers of grindcore and death metal. They're also from Britain. I think you see where I'm going with this.


Scum - Earache 1987.
Rating = 9

T he most ridiculously cacophonous music that the metal world has ever known. Every song has elements of normal punk, metal and hardcore, usually involving neat-o chug-chug-chug riffs by original guitarist Justin Broadrick (later of Head Of David and Godflesh), but then drummer Mick Harris (later of Scorn) goes insane and starts bashing his cymbals as fast as a human being can bash them, the guitarists struggle to keep up (and generally do, although it's hard to tell behind all the smashing cymbals) and singer Lee Dorrian (later of Cathedral) grunts and heaves his words out like a silly Muppet of some sort. I can't imagine how even a diehard death metal fan could take this music seriously (it's just too laughable!), but it sounds great. When the cymbals aren't smashing you to bits, the cool chord sequences make you bang the head out of your hair. Supposedly this was the birth of the "grindcore" subgenre (also populated by Sore Throat, Anal Cunt, Cannibal Corpse and countless others I've never heard of), although I personally am not well-versed enough in my metal subgenres to be able to verify that claim one way or the other. All I know is that there's some really great stuff going on here - and the high-speed smash-smash-smashin', as entertaining as it is, isn't necessarily the best of it. There are also neat avant-feedback bits, some cool bass lines and as I've said fifty times, lots of nice, simple little hardcore riffs. Very un-produced, which is nice (except when the guitars completely disappear like Caspar the Friendly Ghost likely does, being a ghost and all) and with 28 songs in 34 minutes, nothing can go wrogn! As you might imagine, a few of the songs are interchangeable, and certainly an 8.5 seems a more logical score than a 9, but I'm rounding. ROUNDING! Why are you so unversed in the mathematical practice of rounding?

And yes, the song "You Suffer" is one second long. Lyrics: "You suffer, but why?"

Reader Comments

ericrdion@tnni.net
Napalm Fuckin Death. You forgot to mention that Scum has one of the best album covers of all time. I would kill to have that on a t-shirt. Also the peel sessions version of 'Multinational Corporations' has got to be one of the heaviest, most brutal songs ever recorded. Everyone on earth should have the opportunity to hear that song and ponder the truth of the lyrics (Multinational Corporations / Genocide of the Starving Nations).

Colin T.
mick harris also played with john zorn and bill laswell in "painkiller," an excellent group. check them out, and then check yourself in. what? yes. that's right. hmm.

Andy
Not only did Napalm Death move on without any original members after a few albums, they barely made it to the second side of Scum. The were only a 3 piece on the first a half of the album. I always thought that the first side sounds a lot like Celtic Frost with some blast beats thrown in. The second side is where ND really laid down the blue print for grindcore, Mick Harris' vocals are amazing! Countless bands have used the dueling vocals, heavy riffs and blast beat formula, but early ND did it first and the did it the best.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
Fun! Whee!!! Actually it is a ton of fun if you're into this kind of stuff, and while I'm not Mr. Expert on grindcore or whatever this style of punk or metal is, I really do like this album quite a bit. I don't own it yet, but I'll probably download it sometime. Apparently the first half of the album was done by Justin Broadrick on guitar, Nick Bullen on bass and vocals, and Mick Harris on drums, and the second half was done by Lee Dorrian on vocals, Bill Steer on guitar, Jim Whitley on bass, and Mick Harris on drums - egads, the band barely survived through the recording! Hah. I also deeply appreciate Napalm Death's wonderfully consistent leftist politics, and there are some great stories about the band's dealings with right-wing Nazi lunatics - they all have something to do with Napalm Death beating the living shit out of the right-wing Nazi lunatics on sight. Fucking right On.

And they covered "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," so what more of a recommendation do you need? The songs kinda blend together after a while, but a couple favorites are "Multinational Corporations," "The Kill," "Scum," "Sacrificed," "Born On Your Knees," "You Suffer" (of course), "Life?," "Point Of No Return," "Negative Approach" (surely they jest), "Deceiver," and...oh hell, they all kinda sound the same, but it's a dose of insane blinding fury that's awesome as hell.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com
For some reason I keep going back to this album. I really don't listen to grindcore much anymore, but there's definitely something about SCUM that seperates it from the pack. It's interesting how different the two sides sound: the A-side, with the Bullen-Broadrick-Harris lineup, is much more rooted in the blackened thrash and crust scenes, while the Dorrian-Steer-Whitely-Harris lineup on the B-side makes the definite plunge into grindcore proper. Easily a 9 for historical AND musical value. Oddly enough, the Bullen-Broadrick-Harris lineup would reform as Scorn (which Broadrick and eventually Bullen departed).

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From Enslavement To Obliteration - Earache 1988.
Rating = 7

It's not that this record is that much worse than the first one - that one was an 8.5 rounded up to a 9 and this is a 7 rounded up to a 7 - in fact, the records are almost interchangeable in a lot of ways. It's just that the mix on this one is so low-end and muddy, and the drums SO loud, that it's almost impossible to make out the actual guitar riffs on a good quarter of the songs. Plus, there's very little to differentiate one song from the other as there was on the first album. This is just hardcore metal riff after hardcore metal riff after hardcore metal riff, all crammed full of high-volume screaming (Lee Dorian's low muppet wheeze alternating with drummer Mick Harris' ridiculous high-pitched yowl) and reverbed, echoey drums pumped way too incredibly loud in the mix. Yes, guitarist Bill Steer (later of Carcass) has an awesome, evil tomb-sounding guitar tone when you can hear it, but unfortunately there are many moments when you simply cannot. Curse you, whomever produced this record by Napalm Death!

Speaking of tombs, if you've never been to the Catacombs in Paris, go tomorrow. It's un-fuck-be-fucking-lieva-fuck-ble.

Reader Comments

FAstronaut@aol.com
From Enslavement to Obliteration is the only metal record i own. It is so cool! The producer is dig and sounds like he just put all the EQ all the way down. Oh, and this is the best metal record ever! YEAH! NAPALM DEATH! Too bad they got all mainstream after that- well more mainstream than they were. Early Carcass is good too.

jakob325@hotmail.com (Jakob Hellberg)
I've been on a Napalm Death-binge this weekend and I have to STRONGLY disagree with your opinion of "FETO" vs. "Scum". True, the first side of "Scum" is awesome even if it's very heterogenic-sounding (groovy Celtic Frost-riff followed by grinding etc.) but the second side is borderline bad with one super-short song after the other consisting of the most generic riffs imaginable, a SHITTY guitarsound and Lee Dorian sounding like a moron. The very last songs on the side has them moving closer to "FETO"-territory but it's too late then...

"FETO" may on the surface sound like a continuation of that second side but there are fewer super-short songs and even those are more interesting and better than the ones on "Scum" IMO. Maybe it's because I prefer extreme metal to extreme punk but I find the riffs on "FETO" MUCH stronger-I especially like the slashing, propulsive Discharge-styled riffs that are juxtaposed against the chaotic grind parts (see "Lucid Fairytale" for an EXCELLENT example), they only used that formula sparingly on "Scum" but here it is in almost every song except the shortest ones. And the longer songs ("Unchallenged Hate" in particular-the first 70 seconds of that song is beyond awesome) are even better, there are just so many awesome, rocking, groovy and catchy riffs spread across an album that is actually even more extreme than "Scum". Also, Dorrian "sings" much better on this record.

As for the production, I agree that it is a bit hard to make out the guitar-parts during the blast-sections but you can still hear them (as a comparison, Carcass "Reek of putrefaction" has basically the same guitar-sound and there you (well, I) just hear noise during the grind-parts) and I still think the guitarsound is vastly superior to the second side of "Scum" even if it's less "clear" (admittedly a dumb word to use in this context).

Anyway, along with the "Mentally Murdered"-EP (track 8-13 on the "Death by manipulation" comp.) this is my favourite Napalm Death record.

Anyway, thanks for a great site

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The Peel Sessions - Strange Fruit 1989.
Rating = 8

Re-recorded versions of 26 classics from the first two albums. The same strengths and weaknesses apply (low, low, LOW 8), though it should be pointed out that the vocals are quieter in the mix, the drums are less cymbal-smashy and more endless-drum-rolly and the guitar sound is less pleasingly creepy. On the last two records, the guitar sound actually DID sound more like a meat grinder than a guitar. Just absolutely chainsaw down-smash chord craziness. The songs lose a bit of their.umm."luster" the second time around (the schtick gets downright tiresome by the 23rd track or so), but at least you can actually hear what some of the Enslavement riffs were supposed to be! Plus, if you ever wanted to hear what this version of the band sounded like live, this is probably the best chance you'll ever get because half of the band quit immediately afterwards.

Because of you.

They thought you were smelly.

Reader Comments

andystrawn@yahoo.com
I just picked up a newer version of this one with a few newer (Harmony Corruption?) tracks that the BBC recorded. The first half of this relase are really intense, much more than the studio versions. I can't imagine seeing these first two sets being played live. I bet John Peel was shitting himself. John Peel just died, I don't think Napalm Death had anything to do with that though.

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Actually, Napalm recorded yet ANOTHER set of songs for John Peel during the Diatribes days and all four are now available on the album Napalm Death- The Complete BBC Sessions. And yes, the third sessions were from the Harmony Corruption days with Barney on vocals.

This was the album that introduced me to old school Napalm Death (notwithstanding the older songs on Death By Manipulation, which I didn't care for at first). And to this day, I still think it's the most manic, raw, and brutal recording of the FETO lineup ever laid down on tape. If only FETO had been recorded like this, it would be less of a dull album.

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Harmony Corruption - Earache 1990.
Rating = 8

Bill Steer and Lee Dorrian quit, so the other two dudes replaced them with three other dudes who appear to be death metal dudes. And now Napalm Death is a death metal band! No more of those endless drum-and-cymbal smash breaks (which is GOOD - it was a hilarious gimmick, but two albums and a Peel Sessions worth was plenty enough for me thanks!). The guitars no longer sound like meat grinders, chainsaws or even a Kleenex box. Now they sound like fast-handed guys playing really speedy chord sequences along with pogo speed thrash punk drumming. And the new singer doesn't sound like a Muppet - he sounds like a Mr. Evil Pointy Beard Satan Man killing you through a distortion pedal.

The production is still low-budget and garagey, which is a plus in my opinion - the band may not sound HEAVY, but they sound like they'd be happy to murder you on a Wisconsin backroad somewhere just to use your bones as guitar picks. The riffs are headbangingly good (honestly a lot of them sound stylistically similar to the riffs on the early records, just with more chords added in!), with plenty enough repetition to drive them down smoothly like a nice fuzzy hardcore album or Cream Soda Juice Sundae Pop. I had originally written "Drip' as the final word in that sentence but years of rumination led to my conclusion that the word "Pop" more adequately captured the essence of what this album sounds like. Maybe too many slow parts, but some people like slow parts. Why the fuck these people can't go listen to the Swans or Neurosis and stay the hell out of my thrash metal I have no idea.

Reader Comments

Guidry
Scott Burns produced lots of death metal albums in the nineties and they almost all sound exactly the same...he ruined Exhorder's dabut album with his same, dry two-dimensional warmth-fest. But for Harmony Corruption, the sound actually works, and makes the viciously fast griding on this record much more accessible. Fuck all the naysayers who nay say that Nay palm Death sold out...Pure grind can only take you so far (anybody remember Sore Throat?)

shahril@aboutwe.com
This is Napalm Death falling into that 'Florida sound' trend. But I love this album. We are treated with plenty of 'ooohhhhss' courtesy of one 'Barney' Greenway. Adorable fucker that guy is.

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* Death By Manipulation - Earache 1991. *
Rating = 10

I guess this is a collection of singles or EPs or something because half of it features the modern-day lineup (long songs) and the other half is the unmodern-day lineup (short songs). Before we begin, did I mention that their lyrics focused on social and political issues? Not sickening bodily mutations or things like that. Some of the lines were awfully clever too. Here's the second verse of "Social Sterility": "Must inebriate my senses/Into a state of delirium/Before I turn to the meatrack/For my penial selection." Ha you say!

About the record: Definitely the place to start your Napalm Death collection. Not only does it showcase the talents of both versions of the band (letting you know in one fallen swope whether you should buy the other records by either), but it offers up the most finely produced tracks ever recorded by the grindcore line-up. You can actually hear the guitars even during the drum rave-ups! My eyebrows are shooting way up in the air at the mere thought of such an activity! If they fall to EARTH and land near you, please put them in an envelope and mail them to Britney Spears so she can use them to replace her own, which I tore off in a fit of jealous rage after she gave me a lackluster BJ.

I for one believe in chivalry.

Reader Comments

evileric13@hotmail.com (E. Daniel Miller)
This probably is the next ND album to get after Scum. It's got some of the best songs from Harmony Corruption and F.E.T.O., as well as plenty of cool 7 inch and previously unreleased stuff. Of course I didn't get into them until Fear Emptiness Despair myself (remember Beavis n Butthead's review of "Plague Rages?"), but nowadays i'm not as into the stuff after this album. Interesting how this band's top 2 albums are ones split between two different lineups (Scum and this one.) Might as well rate the albums while I'm at it...

Scum - 9
F.E.T.O. - 8
Harmony Corruption - 7
Death by Manipulation - 8.5
Utopia Banished - 7.5
Fear Emptiness Despair - 7
Diatribes - 6.5
Inside the Torn Apart - 6
Words from the Exit Wound - 6
Enemy of the Music Business - 7.5
Order of the Leech - haven't heard yet

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Death By Manipulation is a compilation of the Mass Appeal Madness EP (newer lineup), the Mentally Murdered EP (the FETO lineup), and the Suffer The Children EP (newer lineup). A later reissue also included the Napalm Death/SOB split 7" (the FETO lineup). This is an excellent album (as well as the recent double compilation "Noise for Music's Sake") to introduce ones self to the brutality of ND. Mass Appeal Madness is killer, and always leaves me with "what if Mick had stayed on" thoughts. The two latter-day lineup EPs were recorded during a bit of a transitional period for the band, as the songwriting influence of Mick Harris was still a big part of the band's overall sound. He had already quit when this comp was originally released, and the band would go on to record the even more confused Utopia Banished with "ND is my first and last band" Danny Herrera on drums.

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Utopia Banished - Earache 1992.
Rating = 6

Hoo boy. Now even Mick Harris is gone. Leaving (umm) NOT A SINGLE PERSON WHO PLAYED ON SCUM. Which makes it more than a tad confusing why the new drummer is recreating not only Mick's original trademark grindcore smash-smash-smash style but his high-pitched wail of insanity too!?!?! (or at least somebody in the band is). And what's the stupid band credits? Vocular Armageddon? Sub-End Vexation? Dissonant Distorted Delirium? What happened to a good old banjo?

And about that return to grindcore. I don't WANT to hear these death metal guitarists try to play grindcore. They don't sound like they're grinding anything! They just sound like they're playing guitar parts that are much simpler than they're capable of playing! Either that or they play NOTE runs during the high-speed drum parts, which just sounds like ear-piercing shit if you ask me. The best parts are definitely when they play normal high-speed thrash and don't devolve into awful hyperspeed noise. Actually the coolest song on the record is the slow dirgey "Contemptuous," which doesn't sound at all like anything else the band has ever done, but creates a really nice cathedralesque death mood.

This album just gave me a headache, and if memory serves, it isn't the first time. Bad grindcore might actually be the worst kind of music ever made. Except when The Eagles play it. The Eagles could play anything and make it sound great.

Except for their own shitty, worthless compositions, of course. "Take It Easy"? More like "Take It Off, Don Henley, So I Can Lick Your Delicious Hairy Ass"!!!!!

Maybe I'm revealing a bit too much about my psyche in these reviews.

Reader Comments

LeprosyFreebee@aol.com (Tom L.)
hey mark, you say this album has no people from "Scum", but that album wasn't the original line of Napalm Death anyway. they used to be called Civil Disobedience or something like that and were on a Crass Records Bullshit Detector comp. then around '85 they became Napalm Death, but still played slower punk stuff. Nick Bullen was really the only one from the original Napalm Death to play on "Scum" i believe. heres a link to download their Hatred Surge demo: http://www.metalprovider.com/deathmetalgodz/napalmdeath/hatredsurge.htm.

schleeg@swift-mail.com
This one is a great "roll down the windows, crank it full blast, and laugh at the stares you get while driving" albums. VERY angry but convoluted, the band was going for a dissonant sound with no sense of musical progression on this album. In fact, the tour behind it was called "The Campaign for Musical Destruction Tour". A good cranker, but gets dull after repeated listens. Best songs? Definitely a tie between "World Keeps Turning" and "Upward and Uninterested".

kaj_y2k@hotmail.com (Jakob Hellberg)
Just a minor correction:The guitarists on this one and the previous (Mitch Harris and Jesse Pintado(RIP)) were not death metal guys, they both came from US grindcore bands-Righteous Pigs and Terrorizer respectively. BTW, Terrorizers "World Downfall" is probably the best grindcore album I've heard, I'm not an expert on the genre but I doubt you can maka a better album in that genre. Carcass "Symphonies of Sickness" is really good too but that one sounds more Death than grind IMO.

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Fear, Emptiness, Despair - Earache 1994.
Rating = 8

This was the first Napalm Death CD I ever heard, and it definitely made me want to hear more. This is very heavy death metal. The guitars are super loud and well-produced, the drums are (strangely) pushed to the background and the riffs are AWESOME! Right from the getgo, the band shows it's out to impress with unpredictable rhythm changes (hell, the album STARTS in 9/4!!!), memorable, aggressive chord sequences and Ultra Mega Super Fast UK II guitar werk. The vocals are still ridiculously "EVIL," just being low, devilish gruff spoken words, but it makes it a hell of a lot more listenable than that Queensryche guy would have made it. Who needs singing when the riffs are this interesting?

Which reminds me of another reason I'm so fond of this record: One of my major complaints with death metal is that the bands always change riffs so many times in a song that you're likely to only get one good minute in each song before the band starts playing some boringass shitass crapass. This is not the case with Beer, MTV, This Beer. Most of the songs shuffle from evil, intriguing punk speed chord sequence to wicked heavy weirdly-tempoed slower chord sequence to wildass high-speed note riff, all while holding one's interest! It may not all be fast, but it is all good for the brain, if you pay close enough attention to hear what they're doing. It's smart stuff. This, to me, is what breakdance music is all about.

?

Reader Comments

schleeg@swift-mail.com
This album was released during the grunge years. Columbia entered into an agreement with Earache and thought that they were getting a stable of instant garage hits. What they got instead was a few masterpiece recordings (Carcass' Heartwork, which every goddamn Swedish metal band totally rips off these days) that sold like packaged dogshit compared to others in their stable.

A definite change of sound here. The production is a mixed bag, with the guitars sounding absolutely BRUTAL!! and the drums sounding like absolute SHIT!!! Extremely heavy and UUUUUGLY sound, with actual musical progression and (GASP!) melody within. More emphasis on pure groove, with a noticable lack of blastbeats. Highlights are Twist The Knife (Slowly), Hung, More Than Meets The Eye, and Primed Time. The last half of the album is a mixed bag, with Fasting On Deception the strong point. Of the two bonus tracks from the reissue, Truth Drug is the killer tune. Barney's voice has also lost it's throatiness, and he's growling more from the diaphragm on this and succeeding releases.

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Diatribes - Earache 1995.
Rating = 7

Naplam Dreath goes mainstream? Sort of, yeah! Or at least simplifies their sound to the point that non-mathematicians can understand and enjoy it. A good half of these songs are so simple, in fact, that they could almost be played by a Helmet or a man wearing a helmet. I personally consider this to be a mistake not only because it puts the band in the same league as lesser contemporaries like Pantera and White Zombie, but also because several of these chord sequences are just boring. Unlike the last record, which piled on great, intricate riff after exciting, complex chord sequence for most of the record, this one starts off with several tunes in a row that keep alternating between a really awesome part and a part that doesn't do anything at all! And did they find radio success with disappointing experiments like the rap metal "Cursed To Crawl" and the coulda-been-a-neat-art-rock-tune-if-it-didn't-feature-two-lines-repeated-over-and-over-again-until-time-itself-ceased-to-be "Cold Forgiveness."

Why, yes. Now they're huge and you can't go anywhere without seeing teenage girls wearing placards reading "My Favorite Napalm Death is Singer Mark "Barney" Greenway" and "We Love You, Jesse Pintado, Second Guitarist For Napalm Death".

But it does kick in around track 5 (perhaps that's when they gave up on any hope of actually having a ht) and start KICKING ASSSSSSSS! Some of the songs after this point are even pretty complex! Always tight and heavy, the band does put on a great mean, metal front as always; it's just a little disappointing that the first half of the record is weighted so heavily towards "songs for modern headbangers with limited attention spans."

Reader Comments

smeyers6@mta7.srv.hcvlny.cv.net(Stephen Meyers)
diatribes is a great album! It is a bit more traditional, but still great music. Your a fool if you think scum or enslavement to obliteration is better than that. I mean, those two are interesting to listen to here and there, but they kind of suck! I am a huge napalm death fan too, But those two albums arent really much talent, anybody could have made that kind of album, its just the fact that these guys actually had the balls to do it. But after a while it is like, alright something more real! A great album in my opinion. Not the best, but i liked it.

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Ahh yes. The "pop" Napalm Album (as if such a thing were possible). I find Diatribes to be a nice mixture of experimental sounds, with some elements of the previous album mixed in with elements of Prong, Smashing Pumpkins, and Swans. Strong tracks include Take The Strain, Diatribes, Ripe For The Breaking, and Dogma. I personally think Greed Killing, and Cursed To Crawl are total shit songs, though. The rest of the album is decent.

Some of the better songs from this era were left off the album and put on other EPs. Greed Killing EP had Antibody, and All Links Severed; In Tongues We Speak EP had Food Chains, and the rare Cursed To Tour split CD with At The Gates had Food Chains, as well as Politics Of Common Sense. If they had left some of the weaker songs off Diatribes and included these, it would have been a much better album IMO.

lube1@umbc.edu
Oddly, this was the CD that I got introduced to ND with. I LOVE the riffs on this record. I don't give a damn if it's mid-tempo or what. It seems as if these guys can master any facet of metal. A fuckin' 10 in my opinion. I saw ND live about 6 years after this was released(with Isis and Mastodon opening, unfortunately said openers have since excelled in popularity and not musically and would have a higher rank on a bill than ND), and would you believe they didn't bother playing one song off this gem. Shucks.

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Bootlegged In Japan - Earache 1996.
Rating = 8

This lengthy double-album CD was recorded LIVE(!) in Japan, England. It features 24 songs from throughout their career, performed in sweaty live energetic exuberantness. The modern-day stuff sounds excelgood in this context because where on the original album oh you know it may have occasionally sounded a little TOO sterile and machine-like, in the live context, the guitars are all muddied together like a couple of guys playing guitars and the drummer is a-rippin' a hole in his stick to impress you, so it doesn't get boring even during the repetitive parts. The grindcore parts are a little hard to follow, but weren't they always? Yes indddee! Point: these guys are extremely talented and play as tight as a shoe that's half a size too small for your large intestine.

You also get to hear the singer's spoken voice as he says "Roy' - Tha' yew!" in his adorable British accent over and over again, like Lemmy might have done if Lemmy were a singer instead of a car salesman in Vermont.

Huh? No no, I'm talking about Lemmy Jenkins. He owns a Chysler distribution center in Vermont. I'd tell you which city but I honestly don't know the name of a single city in Vermont. Luckily, I don't ever plan to visit the boring coldass dicknose state.

Fuck you, Vermont!

Reader Comments

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Not bad, but not the masterpiece that was Live Corruption (1990 live release). Bootlegged has a sound that is way too muddy. The latter is just brutal as all fuck, with the manic bashing of Mick Harris, and the enthusiastic grinding of the young (at the time) twin guitar team. The band was having some internal troubles at this time (I saw them during this tour, and they pretty much went through the motions on stage) and it reflected heavily on their attitude on stage. Barney briefly left the band after this tour, only to return when his replacement (Extreme Noise Terror's Phil Vane) turned out to be the wrong choice.

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Inside The Torn Apart - Earache 1997.
Rating = 7

Jesus, ENOUGH WITH THE DAMNED POUNDING! When I turn to The Napalm Death U.K., I expect either speed or tricky time signatures, not a bunch of bastards pounding pounding pounding their repetitive boring chord sequence into my apartment with no sense of subtlety or affection (like Neurosis!)!!!!

Having said that, the fast as hell "Indispose," "Section" and ironically titled "Lowpoint," as well as the ominous, note-driven "The Lifeless Alarm," are excellent tunes. And there are some other great riffs strewn throughout - the first couple have neat guitar harmonics (like Neurosis!) and "Reflect On Conflict" has a part ripped off from a Neurosis song (like Neurosis!) - ensuring that, as a whole, it's still a good record. But there's just too much of that pompa-pompa-pompa-pompa frontbeat drum smash hurt your neck crap.

Speaking of "hurt your neck crap," did you know that gay dogs are called "Rumpers"? My fiance read it in GQ. Also she wanted me to tell you that she gives this album a 2.

Reader Comments

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Weak and lazy effort. The band originally tried to record this one with a different singer when Barney briefly left the band, but it didn't work out. He returned, and it sounds like they pretty much rushed this one out. I concur with your good song choices, but I have to add "Birth In Regress" to the list. The breakdown section of this song is kickass.

You think this album sucks? You should hear the EP that preceeded it (the utterly lame Breed To Breathe). It sucks so bad, two of the songs are ND covers done by other bands!!

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In Tongues We Speak EP (with Coalesce) - Earache 1997.
Rating = 9

Of course it's gonna get a nine. Two songs each by two great bands? No time to get sick of either band's style? Anything lower than a 9 would be an 8 or lower!

Coalesce is an odd one. They're part of a subgenre that I think might be called "metalcore" (also inhabited by the enjoyable likes of Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Bloodlet, Deadguy, Burnt By The Sun,, Anodyne and many others), in which the musicians play extremely angry, intricate, creative parts that needle into your brain through a sickening, screaming mixture of death metal, AmRep-style noise rock and rigid multiple-time-signatured math rock. Which, quite frankly, is pretty much what Napalm Death play at this point in their career! The main differences as I see them between the two genres are that (a) metalcore vocalists scream at you in angry human voices instead of silly "scary" low or "wailing" high voices and (b) metalcore bands seem to have a grasp of irony that metalhead bands don't quite have. Which is really just a nice way to say that it's easy to laugh at the long-haired Satanic (or, conversely, moronically simplified "angry at society's ills") lyrics and imagery of metalhead bands. Though they probably AREN'T stupider, they SEEM stupider. Not that you're going to go up to Napalm Death and call them stupid. Archaic though, maybe? But I'll be saying the same thing about metalcore bands (if that is in fact what they're called) in five years. That's the problem with musical movements. If too many bands all sprout up at once with the same general sound, it's much easier to laugh them all out of town TOGETHER. For example, do you remember Candlebox? How about Silverchair? Days of the New? Of course you don't, and you don't remember any other grunge bands either, because we laughed all of them out of town together. Remember the fun we had? Old Mustache Bob with his tobacco can?

If you're a death metal fan and are intrigued by the thought of this other angry screaming music, you can't find a cheaper, more appealing way to "check it out" (SARS) than through the purchase of this CD. Napalm Death presents the demo version of a Utopia Banished track and what I think might be an At The Gates cover (that's exactly what I mean. Come on, "At The Gates"? Oooo! SCAAAARY!), and Coalesce crawl, pound and roll a rolly car all over the concept of music in two wonderfully heavy tracks from their hard-to-find EP Coalesce. Add a bloody, nail-covered uhh jesus what the hell IS that on the cover????

My thought for the day is as follows: If you let somebody make you angry, you're suffering for their happiness. Fight it. Fight against your anger -- replace it with stupid inappropriate jokes, good music, nice friends and just not giving a shit that mean people exist.

Unless you're really big, in which case beat the hell out of the pricks!!! And tell 'em "The Prindster" sent ya!

Huh? No no, "The Prindster" is my Dad. I'm "Ol' Prind."

Reader Comments

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Didn't care much for Coalesce. Why? I just didn't. I'm not a big fan of metalcore. Bands like Biohazard make me cringe.

The demo version of Upward is killer (and longer than the released version). Food Chains (which is NOT an At The Gates cover, btw) is a cool slower, riffy Diatribes-era song that made it onto the Cursed To Tour split CD with the aforementioned-in-parenthesis Swedish metal band.

lube1@umbc.edu
All four of these songs are fuckin amazing. Still as brutal and as fresh as when I picked this up a decade ago. To the goon that made a reference to Biohazard: take one listen to either 'Revolution in Just Listening' or 'Give Them Rope' and politely take a tall glass of shut the fuck up.

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Words From The Exit Wound - Earache 1998.
Rating = 7

Eef. It just seems like these guys are getting further and further away from being able to recognize a great riff when they come up with one. Just like on the last one, they come up with plenty of cool chord sequences and weird high-speed note runs on here, but they only last for like 45 seconds apiece before they replace them with some ugly, plodding, pounding, boring as SHIT two-chord sequence of nothingness. The only thing that saves the record is that they crammed all the bland, ear-scraping noise crap in the first half, so the second half sounds really, REALLY strong in comparison. Much more interesting bits interchange and intertwine, and the fast bits (which are unfortunately few and far between - WHY DO DEATH METAL BANDS FIND IT NECESSARY TO PLAY EVERYTHING MIDTEMPO?????) kick some serious drums, guitars, bass and vocals.

Still, I just don't understand how a band can sound so smart and so completely blind and dumb at the same time on the same record. I can't even figure out how the band members themselves can find enjoyment switching back and forth between five parts in the same song, with only one or two of them being even at all a tiny bit interesting. What is the joy in smashing two lame midtempo chords over and over while the drummer bashes away? Catharsis? Certainly not for the listener. But it's a death metal trapping that I've found in every death metal band I've ever heard. They switch around a hundred billion times but always get stuck and dwell on the dullest part.

Which is not to say I don't love it when Barney does a cock rock "Oooh!" in his spooky low-pitched voice once or twice per album. In fact, I find it so funny, a puddle of steaming shit is heading towards your house right now!

Look, not everything I write is supposed to make sense. It's just supposed to all be profane. I'm a champion of the First Amendment! Just like the misunderstood, bawdy poet with the heart of gold --Marquis de Sade, as portrayed by Geoffrey Rush!

Reader Comments

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Not bad. This one has to grow on you, though. It took me a few years and a few listens to finally get what they were trying to accomplish here. A nice melding of hardcore-style drumming and elements of their past three albums (metalcore? GASP!). Definitely better and heavier than the previous full length. Infiltrator, Ulterior Exterior, and Incendiary Incoming are the highpoints. The rest hover somewhere in the middle (like the majority of the USA does politically, regardless of what the extremist wackos tell you).

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Leaders Not Followers EP - Relapse 1999
Rating = 8

For some reason, every heavy metal band in the world - Metallica, Slayer, Rod Stewart, and Guns N' Roses - got a wild hair to release a covers album during the 1990s. Sensing a hot mu$$$ical trend, followers not leaders Napalm Death quickly threw together this 14-minute disc covering such grindcore, death metal and hardcore pioneers as Repulsion, Dead Kennedys, Slaughter (not THAT Slaughter), Raw Power (not THAT Raw Power), Chuck Schuldiner's Death (not Chuck Schuldiner's ACTUAL death) and Pentagram.

Upon purchasing this disc, I had only heard two of the original versions -- Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" and Repulsion's "Maggots In Your Coffin." I assumed that I would also be familiar with the Death song since I own all their albums, but Napalm Death had to be a bunch of smartasses and pick an unreleased song from an early demo tape. But my point is that I came away my first listen thinking, "Holy SHIT! These bands were fantastic!!!" And apparently they were, or at least they each had one great song. Slaughter's "Incinerator" is a terrifically hypnotic post-Sabbath midtempo headbanger, Pentagram's "Demonic Possession" is a brilliant three-part pounder/headbanger/bodythrasher, Repulsion's "Maggots In Your Coffin" outblastbeats Napalm Death themselves, and Death -- well, what can you say about Death aside from "God damn damn God and death for stealing death metal god Chuck Schuldiner from Death, Goddammit!"

On the less astonishing side, Raw Power's hardcore is a bit too straightforward for "The 'palm Death" to do much with, and there's honestly no improving on a Dead Kennedys song - the headthrottling combination of East Bay Ray's aggressive psycho-surf-core riffs and Jeff Penalty's incendiary lyrics is simply unbestable.

Incidentally, all you Virus 100 fans out there, this is a newly recorded version of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," not the overproduced by Martin Hannett version that appears on that fine record. Also, if you ever get a job in the advertising department of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, totally make a commercial where everybody sings "Pasta chunks, pasta chunks, pasta chunks - FUCK OFF!" Jello Biafra's been trying to sell that jingle to advertisers for years, so I think it'd be a nice gesture on your part.

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Enemy Of The Music Business - Spitfire 2001.
Rating = 9

So's I'm in the middle of my Napalm Death reviews and I takes my dog downtown to the Washington Square Park Dog Run (did you see him? He was the cute one humping the dalmation) and he gets kinda hot so I goes in Kim's Record Store and WHAMMO! There's a brand new Napalm Death CD in the used bin for $8.00! I thinks to myself, I says Hey! I should probably buy that, what with me being in the middle of reviewing Napalm Death and all! So I buys it with no reservations and................

HOLY TRUCKSTORE DRIVING COWBOY EISENHOWER COMPANION!!!!!! With all due respectibles to the early insanity work this band put out, this has got to be the most aggressive, angry and FACEPUNCHINGLY FAST work they've ever recorded. With several of the lyrics revolving around what I'm going to go on record assuming was an acrimonious split with Earache Records, the Death set forth to regain their respect among the death metal, speed metal and grindcore community (if it still exists?!?!) by releasing a batch of FAST-AS-A-CAR, MEAN-AS-A-CAT, CATCHY-AS-A-CAN, LOUD-AS-A-CAB songs filled with the sanctimonious rage of a group of guys who have devoted their life to their craft for over a decade with almost nothing to show for it.

Holy mother of America's Breast, am I glad they chose this route. This is such a great album. You'll bang your head, you'll shake your fist, you'll scream the lyrics along with old Barney, you'll thank your lucky fart that their producer helped them pump the guitars way, way, WAY up in the mix and you'll want to write the band a letter congratulating them on coming up with an entire record of cool chord sequences! And the songs are FAST FAST FAST! Not grindcore, impossible-to-follow fast, but classic speed metal backbeat 4/4 mosh pit run-around-in-a-circle-and-punch-people-because-you're-a-worthless-skinhead-cocksucker speedy. For the first time in a HELLA long time, Napalm Death doesn't even come close to boring on this release. No, there are no tricky rhythms like on Fear, Emptiness, Despair, but the pissedoffness, rollickingville beats and honestly MEMORABLE riffjiffmiff more than makes up for what some nogoodnicks might try to write off as a slapdash exercise in angertude. This is easily one of the most exciting releases in the Napalm Death catalog, as well as one of the most KICKASS albums I've heard in the last few years. Buy it!

Sure, you have to wait until the last track to hear Barney's "Oooh!" but you get to hear it TWICE, along with a pleasing, unexpected "Uh!" Thus, this album gets a 9.

Reader Comments

napalmzappa@mn.astound.net (Tangento)
Yes, Full agreement here, toenails or no toenails. Ya know, I bought the bag of Jm J. Bullock's toenails for Bugalloos smoking/ viewing pleasure from Anal Cunt (R.I.P.) on E-Bay. That means they HAVE to be authentic, right? If not, Mark, you may be sitting there smoking a skid-row derelict's toenails, I hope you know...

schleeg@swift-mail.com
The angriest and most brutal ND album released. Every song shines on this one, although it somewhat runs out of steam during the last two. Can't Play, Won't Pay has to be the most pissed-off song I have ever heard. No hip-hop beats from Danny Herrera on this one! A true grind classic that no ND fan should be without.

crab.stick@talktalk.net
My fave Napalm Death record. Furious death metal/grind. Kills all emo from yards away.

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Order Of The Leech - Snapper 2002.
Rating = 7

It's a bit unclear to me as to why vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway continues to bellow in a Satanic monster evil voice when all of the lyrics are socio-political, but if it's a spooky carcass zombie guy on the campaign trail that you're looking for -- Look No Further! (*Spends 45 minutes trying to come up with hilarious Dick Cheney joke. Fails. Gets a Diet Sprite. Scratches face. Looks out the window, notices me with binoculars and microphone. Reaches into silverware drawer, pulls out machete and jar of battery acid. END COMMUNICATION*)

The last Napalm Death album, Enemy Of The Music Business (written and recorded upon the band's presumably less-than-amicable parting with long-time label Earache) was a comeback -- an intense riotous trip to the Thrash Store located down at the intersection of Fast Highway and Angry Boulevard (put your address book down; I'm using metaphors). But Order Of The Leech doesn't carry the same urgency, conviction or feeling of honest, intense betrayal and rage, leaving it as basically "J.A.N.D.A." (Just Another Napalm...something, I forgot what the D stands for... Album). Every song starts with a kickass, heavy, speedy hardcore riff, then shifts to a tiresome blastbeat part, then maybe a slower, fairly enjoyable grinding "mosh" part, then like six other parts of varying quality before returning to the "kickass" part like eight years later. This refusal to pamper me with repetition puts a damper on my parade, hampers my enjoyment, tampers with my thermostat and gives a group of campers a bad case of the crampers.

Howevertheless, there is enough twisted, strangly-guy amelodic guitar interaction and really fast drumming to make it an at least not-half-bad purchase for people who for some reason already have Napalm Death's other ten albums and somehow feel that's not enough -- that surely they have more to say to us than the same two or three key messages they've been stressing nonstop for the past fifteen years. Hey everybody look at me, I'm a Napalm Death album! (in really low, evil voice): "WAR KILLS PEOPLE! THE GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT! SOCIETY TEARS DOWN THE INDIVIDUAL! COME ON AND SHAKE THAT SEXY BODY!"

Look, it's not my fault you've never heard the EP they did with J. Lo.

Reader Comments

opeth1213@yahoo.com (Eric D.)
After intent listening, i've decided this is just another solid ND album... true they havent changed much, but sometimes that's a good thing. Now, an EP with J-Blo... that would be interesting. But in the meantime i'm happy these guys are still around doin what they do best every couple years like clockwork. 7.5/10.

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Still brutal with a disappointing production. Everything is kind of thrown into a vat of mud, mixed, and spewed at the listener. Trying to make out individual contributions on this one is quite a task. That said, the songs are quite strong and more refined than the previous album, with Out of Sight out of Mind, To Lower Yourself (Blind Servitude), Forewarned Is Disarmed?, and The Great Capitulator (with it's ripoff of Whitesnake's "Still Of The Night as its main riff. HAH!) being the highlights.

Again, Jesse Pintado didn't play on this one. He's since left the band, and they continue as a four-piece.

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Leaders Not Followers: Part 2 - Century Media 2004
Rating = 9

In today's gentle world of academic folk rock and melodically persuasive r'n'b, sometimes it's nice to kick back with a warm bowl of cereal and enjoy an album that totally fucking kicks fucking ass, motherfucker. Leaders Not Followers: Part 2 is one such album that enters your home, shreds your body apart, and chews on the maggoty entrails.

The concept was deceptively simple yet transparently difficult: The Napalm Death Band would choose a selection of favorite songs from their youth and update them for today's sophisticated audiences by filtering them through that inimitable 'Palmy style. As fate would have it however, all five band members spent their youth listening to killer, awesome, shredding, thrashing hardcore, grindcore and speed metal songs that rip your wife's head off, shit down her neck, wait 24 hours for it to pass through her digestive system, then force you to eat the shit-filled shit covered in shit as it exits her rectum. No Great American Songbook for these young lads from rainy England across the pond; the younger generation dances to the tunes of a different piper.

Pipers covered by The Napalm Death Band And Combo on this headbanging, brain-mauling release include hardcore legends Agnostic Front, Discharge and Dayglo Abortions, thrash/death pioneers Sepultura, Kreator and Hellhammer, obscurist crossover faves Cryptic Slaughter, Wehrmacht and Hirax, a bunch of bands nobody's ever heard of, and Die Kreuzen. Whether or not you are familiar with these bands, I'm sure you'll agree that - if these covers are any indication - each and every one of them explode a case of dynamite in the Vatican, blowing the Pope and his audience into charred, rancid piles of mucous-covered flesh buried under 500 tons of money.

The heavy guitar tones will pound your face in with a hammer, the hardcore and blastbeat tempos will rip your guts out one at a time through your nose, and Mark 'Barney' Greenway's commanding gruff shouts will remove your teeth with a pair of pliers, run a lawnmower over your foot, and carefully remove the skin covering your nose before turning it upside down and resting it on your forehead.

The headbanging 3-chord heaviness of Master's "Master" will stomp the last breath out of every living thing within five miles of your home. The anxious circular chord sequence of Attitude Adjustment's "Dope Fiend" will create an aural syringe filled with rat poison, inject it into your arm, and use your Instant Messenger account to call all your friends an 'asshole' while you lie in the corner dying to death. The weird squiggly noises and twistity harmony guitar lines of Insanity's "Fire Death Fate" will suck the crust of the Earth inward until it and everything upon it burns into a liquidy pulp upon contact with the fiery core of the planet. Also there's two songs by Anti Cimex.

So it's settled. If you're looking for an album that will tear your newborn baby limb from limb and then cram the remaining head/torso combo into a blender, add ice cream and strawberries, grind the concoction into a healthy summer Smoothie, and twist a broken light bulb into your eyesocket, look no further than the tearingest, ass-kickingest, thrashingest, moshingest, headbangingest, hardcorest brutal murder death metal release of the entire century. Also, try and pick up a copy of this covers album by The Napalm Death Band, Combo, Choir And Orchestra.

OR BUY IT ONLINE DIRECTLY FROM CENTURY MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code - Century Media 2005
Rating = 7

Reader Comments

Nplmdthnumberonefan2002@geocities.com
I must disrespectfully disagree with your idiodic review of The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code. I don't see how anyone could mistake its brilliant death metal compositions for "a bunch of parts that don't go together all thrown in a pile and separated into 4-minute installments." Thats called dynamics dumbass and its why ND still rules after twenty years while todays metal bands (Linkin Park, Metallica, Staind) suck. You say that they "just as on their last record, they too often sacrifice great heavy thrash parts and innovative headbanging riffs in the name of pointless blastbeat breaks and slow 'funky' Sabbath-esque collections of instantly forgettable 2- or 3-chord simplicity" but I don't see you up there on stage playing to 40,000 people. Tell me Mr. Prindle, how many albums have you done? Maybe you should shut up until youve sold a half a million albums like ND did with their major label debut Pain, Emptiness, Despair.

I was surprised to see that you really like half of the songs on here. Since you clearly only like pop music I thought youd be incapable of recognizing good intense metal when you hear it. I agree that its cool how they branched out and ended the CD with two songs that sound nothing like ND, but who the hell is 'Head of David'? Whoever it is, I seriously doubt that ND would have heard them and they definitely didnt 'copy their classic (?) sound' in "Morale." Still, I gotta give you props for not being too stupid (barely) to recognize "Pledge Yourself To You," "Climate Controllers," "Vegetative State" and "The Great And The Good" as four of the sickest and evilest thrash songs of their career. Your description of "Vegetative State" as "Slayer-esque" is right on, I think they may have been listening to some classic speed metal when putting this record together. I know it has a lot of slow parts too, but thats for dynamics. What, too many changes for you to keep up with?What kind of a wannabe asshole would accuse Shane, Barney and Mitch of "fiddle-fucking around with slow dull chord choices instead of playing an actual song all the way through"? Why dont you go back to your Spice Girls albums?

And whats the deal with the first three paragraphs? Maybe Im new to your site but I fail to see the reasoning behind "pooping in your socks to keep your feet warm," nor do I think you have much of a grasp on physics if you believe that "E = MC2" means "Everyday = My Cock (in your wife) Two Times." It means "Energy = Mass x the square of the speed of light."

One thing I do agree with you about is that Jesse Pintados guitar is missed. His solos alone always made ND CDs worth the price of admission. But where did you get your information that he was forced out of the band "for trying to eat the tour bus"? I heard it was because he was an alcoholic. I also don't think its true that he "purposely scraped the skin off his entire body so he could lick Bactine off himself all day." For that matter, ND did NOT "take their name from a British abortion clinic," nor did Barney Greenway "change his name to Greeney Barnway and open a Farmers' Market in his ass." Come on, how could somebody open a Farmers Market in their ass? There are so many erros in your review, its obvious you dont know what your talking about.

I still dont understand the last paragraph of your review, and my friends dont either. President Bush sent the troops to Iraq to spread democracy, and thats what were doing. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, something that no other president has been able to do. And now women can vote and dont have to worry about being beaten up by men for not wearing their "burka" outside. How can you say this wasnt worth the loss of 17,000 American lives? Their lives are turned around tenfold and thats just the beginning. Now the regions around Iraq will see how well democracy works and theyll convert too. Would you have preferred that we just let Saddam continue to gas his own people and ignore the UN telling him to stop making weapons? And I know that a few innocent Iraqis are dying too, but your suggestion that "it would be appropriate for an Iraqi to assasinate Bush and Cheney's entire families so they'd know what it feels like to lose innocent loved ones too" was a bit misguided. 9/11 happened - what, we werent supposed to respond? I dont see you over in Iraq defending America!

I dont come to music sites to read about politics anyway. I wanted to see if you had any insights about The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code but you obviously dont aside from rambling off about how the guy who sings on "The Great And The Good" wouldnt let you interview him. Who gives an ass? I wouldnt let you interview me either!

I hope ND reads this review so they can see for themselves that you call them "the greatest death metal band to ever put out 50 disappointing albums in a row." I don't see you recording anything better! I bet you don't even play an instrument! except maybe the mouth organ faggot hehe.

I hope nobody listens to your review because you obviously are an ND hater just trying to piss everybody off. What, does that make you feel good to get attention? You call yourself a fan, but then you say "I don't love every single song they've ever done." When I saw ND in Bridgeport, Maine in 2001, they blew the roof off the place. But you'll never be able to understand that because YOU WERENT THERE. So stop trying to understand the greatness that is ND.

Oh, one other thing: FUCK YOU!!!

themightygreegor@yahoo.com
That review is just surreal, Mr. Prindle.
NO ONE is going to get it. I'm not sure that I do.
I feel about 75% sure that you wrote that on purpose. And sober. Do you know what you're setting yourself up for? You MUST. These fans are gonna go NUTS.
Well, maybe not. The people who comment on Napalm Death seem to be more reasonable and intelligent than the ones on, say, your Agent Orange page. But still, you're just setting yourself up.
I've never even heard Napalm Death. I read the review 'cuz it was on the New Stuff page. I'm not even commenting on the record. Just the review. Man, I hope the ND folks just lose it.
I give your review a ten. Best I've read, ever. If you really did write it yourself.
You DID, didn't you??

Nplmdthnumberonefan2002@yahoo.com
Oh, please, Mark, STOP writing your reviews using MY name!

Oh, one other thing: FUCK YOU!!!

schleeg@swift-mail.com
Hahhaha! I totally dig the review. You've got some genius there, Prindle..

ND falls back a lot to their early hardcore roots with this one. Much better production than Order Of The Leech. Lots of that Discharge 123 123 123 beat shit, and Mitch continues his Celtic Frost worship here (many of the breakdowns make me want to growl "PROCREATION OF THE WICKED!!"). Sort of a melding of Utopia Banished and Enemy Of The Music Business. Barney's voice is a brutal as ever and Mitch breaks out the 12 string for some atmosphere on some of the tracks. Highlights are "Silence Is Deafening", "The Great and The Good", "All Hail The Grey Dawn", and "Climate Controllers", but there isn't a single stinker on this entire album.

tomgipson@gmail.com
I just thought I'd say that this is THE fucking Napalm Death album. IMO there are only TWO ND albums worthy of the name: Scum and this one. Although this one is ALMOST ruined by Jello Biafra.

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Smear Campaign - Century Media 2006
Rating = 8

In today's stressful post-9/11 world, it's more critical than ever that we come together as a society, respect each other's differing viewpoints, and spread compassion and charity wherever and whenever we can. And that's why last night I nearly got in a fistfight with an AIDS patient.

You see, I'm a generous man. Some might say too generous. For example, one time a guy asked me for a light and I gave him two. So imagine my chagrin upon the happenstance of this exchange just last evening (November First, Two Thousand And Six):

Me: (*walks towards home from Pizza Uno at 12:15 AM, reading DVD Delirium II*)

AIDS Guy: (from behind me) "Excuse me, mister! Mister! Excuse me! Mister?"

Me: (*foolishly turns around*)

AIDS Guy: "Hey listen, I have to get $17.50 in the next two hours or I'm going to miss the last train out of the city. I have AIDS so I really need to (blah blah blah I'd stopped listening by this point)"

Me: (*pulls dollar out of wallet; gives to AIDS Guy*)

AIDS Guy: (bitterly) "Oh great. Another dollar."

Me: "What? I can't give you more than a dollar."

AIDS Guy: (angrily) "Is that all my life is worth to you? One dollar?"

Me: "Your life? You're going to die if you don't get out of the city tonight?"

AIDS Guy: "YES! I will die! I have AIDS! Look at how skinny I am!" (*lifts shirt; doesn't look all that skinny really*) "Look at what I have on! I'm wearing a t-shirt!" (*shows me the t-shirt he's wearing... underneath his JACKET*) "It's cold out here. If I catch a cold, I will die!"

Me: (*begins walking again*) "Well, that's all I can give you."

AIDS Guy: "My life isn't worth 17 dollars to you?"

Me: "No! I don't even know you! You could be a child molesting serial killer for all I know."

AIDS Guy: "Oh, that's a great attitude to have." (*shakes head disgustedly*)

Me: "Look. I work for my money. I don't like my job. I fucking HATE it! But I do it, because I need money to live!"

AIDS Guy: "That's a great attitude to have. You're disgusting."

Me: "Then give me back my dollar."

AIDS Guy: "Get out of my face."

Me: "No! Give me back my dollar!"

AIDS Guy: (*jumps in front of me; walks quickly ahead*) "I'm through talking to you."

Me: "Asshole."

AIDS Guy: (*stops; looks back in surprise*) "What was that?"

Me: "Asshole."

AIDS Guy: "Maybe I should beat you over the head with this pipe I have in my hand!"

Me: (*looks at his hand; sees something very small in a paper bag*) "You have a pipe?"

AIDS Guy: "Man, why would you SAY something like that to a person with AIDS? Do you know what AIDS does to a person? I am in PAIN! Every time I go to the hospital to get checked out, it costs me $200! Where am I supposed to sleep tonight if I don't get home? On the street? In the hospital, so the air conditioning can give me a cold and kill me?"

Me: "I'm sorry."

AIDS Guy: "Look, I wouldn't lie to you. Please don't make me beg."

Me: "Well, I'm not giving you any more money, but I am sorry I was mean."

AIDS Guy: (*gives final disgusted look; crosses the street*)

FIN

Yes, we all enjoy nearly getting in fistfights with AIDS people, but more importantly we all enjoy hearing Mark "Barney" Greenway growl a bunch of songs in a row about how much he hates religion. Naplam Dearth is back and there ain't no denyin' THIS Holocaust because they grind, thrash and blastbeat their way through 16 songs in 45 minutes! Not that a three-minute song is short.

Smear Campaign finds the band in the fast-and-aggressive-as-shit mode last heard on Enemy Of The Music Business. Almost every song (as usual) has about 10 different parts, but there is at least some repetition and even if a song changes directions more often than I change my bra, there's usually at least one recurring bit to keep your bearings grounded. And just LOOK at all these different loud rock styles you'll hear sloshing around together in the compositions: grindcore, death metal, hardcore, straight midtempo metal, thrash, black metal, goth, stoner metal, post-hardcore, swinging funky Sabbathy metal, and even straightforward Ramones-esque punk rock! And yes, most of it just sounds like a guy blastbeating your skull into a bunch of little tiny skulls, but listen more closely and you'll be wonderfully surprised not only by the (relative) stylistic diversity but also the astonishing number of sick, twisted, dark, original chord sequences that Shane Embury and Mitch Harris have come with this time around.

Aside from a couple of wispy showcases for guest vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen from Norway's increasingly non-metal The Gathering, every song is extremely aggressive and full of anxiety, confusion and RAGE!!! Barney gives us a few "Ooooh!"s of course, and the speed and intensity levels of the instrumentation are so brutal that the songs can't help but start to run together near the end. Still, this is a god-damning strong death metal release with lots more original hooks than should be expected from a band that's been around this long -- especially considering that they play about 40 different riffs in the time it takes most bands to play three.

It's also interesting to see that Greenway's (and Embury's) anti-religiosity is based upon compassionate reason rather than the bludgeoning hate of Deicide and Slayer. But boy is he obsessed with this one single issue! Check out these lyrics, which all hail from different songs:

"No product of an almighty here/Cast in no creator's image/Trust in our own complexities/To exit, not degenerate."

"Though we later may walk/In a valley in the shadow of death/What should we logically fear?/Perhaps the complacent urge for a deity/To make us whole and guide us through/To fulfill an image that is cloudy at best"

"Resounding words from God/And words are all they ever are/Astounding deeds from faith/That never quite astound."

"When all is said and done/Heaven lies in my heart/No slave to beliefs that propogate pain/When all is said and done/Heaven lies in our hearts/This life is a gift to be lived and loved"

"Think... Think for a minute/Of centuries of perpetrating/Bloodshed, deception, oppression/Think... Think for a minute/Of centuries of subjugating/Martyrs' superstitions/The evidence is damning and conclusive -/That intervention/Is not advancing or easing hardships/Still we're strangely so duty-bound"

"Living to actually live/Mercy without faith's weight/I'll relax on the wide view/No apologies toward my grave"

"Objections raised all softened to a murmur/Wanton blasphemers shrink down in this vacuum/Loudest base pleasures stifled to a whimper/Colour and shade is so bland in this vacuum/Repentant - you've been muzzled in their open arms"

"Stare with indifference into the invisible eye/Who so died for many sins/Those were theirs, not mine"

"Must shoulder the fallen/The weak are not mere fodder/And that's what's called free-thinking/Distanced from ALL gods"

(regarding 'Intelligent Design') "When they can't wave the head of the prophet/Natural life needs some spin/Deaf and dumbstruck -/Inanimate myth gets an in"

"I met her at the Burger King/We fell in love by the soda machine/So we took the car downtown/THERE IS NO GOD!"

But no seriously, that's TEN out of 16 songs focused on the topic of reason over religion. And one of the remaining six is an instrumental! So I guess if we are to read something into the politically-charged title Smear Campaign, it's that the CD is intended as a smear campaign against the Fundamentalist religious right elements that irritatingly wield so much power in both the United States and the United Kingdom (of 'video nasties' fame). I'm with Napalm Death on this one - I understand the need for basic law and order (re: murder, rape, theft, etc.), but where is the fun in going out of your way to limit your own freedom?

Also, here's something I was wondering earlier today. First one to answer correctly gets no prize! Here's my question: you know how whenever someone calls themselves, say, "Elvis Costello" or "Elvis Hitler" or whatever, people always immediately understand that it's a reference to Elvis Presley? Well, here's my question. Was "Elvis" ever actually a real name in the American south? Or was it just a goofy word that Mrs. Presley made up upon his birth? In other words, were there any people in the world named 'Elvis' before Presley was born? Somebody look this up somewhere and let me know. Thanks!

Reader Comments

Jim Laakso
Hey Mark,

I'm sitting at my desk killing some time so I don't have to ride home on a crowded subway, and lo and behold I see some new reviews on your site.

...So I'll be the loser who FIRST SENDS IN an answer to your Elvis query, because I just so happen to have a magical website in my FAVORITES list that gives that very info!!

That fun ol' website -- The Baby Name Wizard -- that tells us that there were indeed babies being named ELVIS left and right before Mr. Presley (well, OK, it was only the 798th most popular name in the '30s, with roughly 30 babies per million being so named). Notice how there is a steep decline in Elvises during the time when he was born and growing up, then a dramatic SPIKE after he got famous. Weirdly enough, the name peaked in popularity (total numbers of babies, not overall ranking) just recently! Waste a few hours here: http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html

michaelwfhowe@hotmail.com
Hi,

Just thought I'd let you know (because, like, it will really brighten your day or something) that I saw ND last night in London. Rereading your review of the new LP made me want to drop you a line. I haven't seen them in 3 years because I'm stupid but they were really mindblowingly abrasive and totally destroyed. I am covered in bruises where people kept standing on my face but it was worth it. They played a handful of new songs, the one that really sticks in my mind (don't have the new album yet) was a very mournful, slow pounding track that reminded me a bit of early Swans. The other new tracks came over very well. As they are now a 4 piece I was worried that they might sound a bit quieter but no chance. I don't listen to huge amounts of hardcore or thrash but I was reminded that the reason they are still the best is because they are faster, louder, heavier and rawer than anyone else. Have you seen them play? I don't know how often they play NY but it all sort of makes sense when you see them live. This morning I am rather sore but full or positive thoughts and energy.

There you go.

Hope all's well.

atarikeefreak@swift-mail.com
I used to be schleeg@swift-mail.com, but alas, I'm not anymore...

First off... R.I.P. Jesse Pintado 1967-2006. Truly a loss to the extreme metal scene.

Boy, does this fucker CRUSH. I now understand what Mitch, Shane, and the boys were trying to accomplish with the past few albums sans Jesse, but they just didn't quite hit it. As far as sheer brutality and crushing sound go, they've definitely hit it with Smear Campaign. The songs are most definitely stronger this time around, with lots of the same hardcore/early grindcore influence that they're known for. But I can only state that they're ALMOST there songwise. I bet by the next one, they will have honed their new direction to the point that they finally hit it. By far their most crushing album; even more so than "Enemy...". Not one stinker on this one either. For those who are new to the band, this is definitely one to get after Death By Manipulation, Noise For Music's Sake, and Enemy of the Music Business...

tomgipson@charter.net
I only heard one track and it kicks some ass. I gotta say I LOVED the snare sound on The Code is Red but it doesn't sound as good on this one. however, the mix is better on the new one. At any rate, "Silence is Deafening" is the epitome of kickass songs and they will never be able to top it (I think anyway).

lube1@umbc.edu
Holy fuck, this RULES!!! And, here I thought these guys were just a bunch of retired geezers..... How do you sound more pissed off and intelligent than you did 20 years ago? Most new bands these days can't hold a candle up to this shit. Wow.

edm1213@msn.com
This album whoops the fox's ass with a belt, Wesley Willis style, and is right up there with the best of Napalm's increasingly extensive catalogue. How these guys keep doin it beats the hell out of me, but gosh darned it they do. The inclusion of Anneke from The Gathering is another pleasant surprise (the Gathering are from Holland, not Norway btw) that keeps it fresh in an album where sticking mostly to the formula but finding subtle ways to change it up is the order of the day. Nice one, folks. 9/10

P.S. R.I.P Jesse Pintado (1967-2006)

michaelwfhowe@hotmail.com
Hi Mark,

On the grounds that I wrote to you last time I went to see Napalm Death, I thought I'd write again as I saw them again last night. I reread your reviews today and it's interesting that you didn't like From Enslavement... so much because of the weird production - looking back I definitely agree with you. The songs on there are much better represented on the Peel Sessions.

Anyway, last nights show was unbelievable. They really cranked up both the speed and the noise this time to a whole new level. They're still on a bit of a Swans / Discharge tip but when they get going it couldn't be anyone else. As well as some choice Scum cuts (Scum, Siege of Power) they also played It's A MAN's World from Enslavement... which I have never heard live before. And with the beefed up sound the 2008 version is a great improvement. The new tracks sounded very blast-y with some stop-start dirge-y bits, definitely promising. My impression was that they'd listened to some of the older crust / grind bands for inspiration. Grind that really GRINDS.

Apart from the sheer power of the attack the thing that stuck with me is that in these times, where it's not cool to make political statements or even to shout out about what you think is right, it is great to have a band not afraid to do that. It made me think that maybe this is what Crass were like in their prime. And certainly it certainly feels good to take a break from pogoing (or whatever) to look round and see crusties. punks, fashionistas, metalheads, old (I swear I saw a guy who looked like Gandalf), young, all losing their collective minds.

That was pretty much what I wrote last time, wasn't it. But I think it needs saying, especially as the fact that ND aren't a new band, but they are still way out front. I am sure that I will write something similar next time.

Add your thoughts?


Time Waits For No Slave - Century Media 2009
Rating = 8

"Time Waits For No One" and "Slave" are Rolling Stones songs. Just what in God's Green Fuck are Napalm Death the hell trying to kid? What's next -- Mother's Little T&A? (I Can't Get No) Harlem Shuffle? Street Fighting Dandelion? No no no. None of these things are next.

Although it contains the expected elements of death metal and grindcore, Time Waits For No Slave feels more than anything like a good ol' speed metal album. Nearly every track has at least one passage of high-speed chord thrashing, and several also feature midtempo headbang passages reminiscent of prime-era Suicidal Tendencies. Furthermore, rather than tying together 5,000 different unrelated riffs, these songs tend to begin with two repeated alternating parts ('verse' and 'chorus,' perhaps), suddenly switch halfway through to two other repeating parts ('bridge' and 'middle eight,' maybe) and conclude with a quick return to the first two parts. For better or worse, this stripped-down construction makes the songs much easier to 'get' than before. On the positive side, it's nice to finally hear the good parts twice before they disappear forever -- but on the negative side, the weak parts stick around long enough to sound downright ignorant!

Take the opening track "Strong Arm."

PLEASE!

Heh heh, little comedy joke for you there. But it's true - "Strong Arm" is a completely generic and formulaic speed metal song. Sure it's fast and angry, but there isn't a hint of innovation to be found. If not for Barney's doomy growls, it could be mistaken for Epitaph-era Agnostic Front or any new 'hardcore' band with expensive distortion pedals. And I wouldn't have started this review with such a negative comment had they not opened their album with such a shitty song.

Thankfully, "Strong Arm" is an anomaly. Although the disc's remainder does suffer from the occasional boring or ugly passage, the band is mostly on tippy-top form, ripping out oodles of menacing note runs, hooky speed metal progressions, and anxious blastbeat dissonance (which, thanks to an excellent mix, never drowns out the accompanying chord changes).

Here are a few new examples of the compositional smarts that have kept Napalm Death at the top of Billboard's Extreme Metal Chart for over two decades:

- "Diktat"'s delightful dichotomy of tiny grindcore snippets and lone high-end guitar harmonics

- The title track's harmony growl vocals (!!!)

- "Life And Limb"'s honest-to-gob POP CHORUS

- "Larceny Of The Heart"'s dark Killing Jokey (and possibly keyboard-enhanced?) interplay riff

- "Procrastination On The Empty Vessel"'s creepy echo-enhanced two-note guitar line

- "Feeling Redundant"'s total Slayer action

Not to mention all the cool speed metal riffs and eerie arpeggio hooks! Not to mention those! Can you do me a favor? Not to mention those!

I've been watching my DVD box set of Saturday Night Live: Season Two, and have a few things I'd like to say:

1. The early years were not any more consistent than any other era of SNL. The Jodie Foster, Ralph Nader and Lily Tomlin episodes, for example, are astonishingly bad and unfunny.
2. Jane Curtin is a boring fake newscaster.
3. Emily Litella is on every single goddamned episode.
4. Dan Aykroyd is absolutely hilarious, and talks faster than any other cast member they've ever had.
5. There are constant jokes about John Belushi's drug use. I guess it seemed funny at the time.
6. There are constant racist jokes that would never be tolerated today.
7. Bill Murray was confident and funny even on his very first episode. He doesn't do much on the ones immediately following it though.
8. Baba Wawa is on every single goddamned episode.
9. Leo Sayer, James Taylor, George Benson, John Prine, Kinky Friedman and Ry Cooder = FESTERING AUDIO STENCH.
10. Gary Weise's films!? Who decided THOSE pieces a shit deserved to be on TV?

In conclusion, somebody tell Pepto-Bismol that a fantastic holiday commercial for them would feature the lyric, "I'm dreaming of some pink Bismuth." Then have them send me seventy-lillion dollars.

Reader Comments

billy.barron@tx.rr.com
It seems like all the sketch comedies are always very inconsistent - Monty Python being a great example of that. Now in the early SNL's case, I think most of the material hasn't aged well at all. Stuff I thought was funny back then, I now think is boring. Of course, with over 30 years of the same kind of skits, it's hard to see the freshness it had on first run.

Emily Litella, Baba Wawa and Gary Weis were all terrible. Kinky Friedman was on SNL???? Holy crap, I expect it was awful, but I have to check that out. Of course, I know him as a governor candidate and a columnist not as a musician.

I remember the Lily Tomlin episodes being very good. However, her recent work on the infamous Dallas Zoo Jenny the Elephant battle has been less funny.

Add your thoughts?


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